With 13 seniors, new coaches, WHS cheerleaders eager to start season

The Wilton High School varsity cheer squad is looking forward to an exciting year, which includes both the fall and winter seasons during which they cheer for varsity football, cheer for both boys and girls varsity basketball, and compete at FCIACs, states and other elite regional cheerleading competitions.

Unlike other sports at WHS, cheer runs straight through from summer camp in July through the state competition in March.

This season the squad not only welcomes a new coaching staff, but also rosters 13 seniors, more than most any other girls varsity sport at WHS.

These seniors, all but one of whom have cheered at Wilton High School on either the JV or Varsity squads since their freshman year, have faced some challenges in their cheer careers at WHS, and are beginning their senior season with their third set of coaches in four years.

But these dedicated seniors, led by captains Meaghan Herlyn and Nicole Amato, look forward to a great year together. In addition to Herlyn and Amato, returning seniors Taylor Aquan and Avery Langhoff are also beginning their fourth year on varsity, together with senior Cristina Salatino, who was pulled up to varsity from JV to fill a spot at a final competition of her freshman year.

Joined by seniors Bridget Saxe, Jamie Perry, Jordan Holmen, Emily O’Grady, Kendall O’Connor, Lydia Bates and Kara Robertson, all of whom have been on the varsity squad since sophomore year, this is the most experienced cheer squad WHS has fielded since anyone can remember.

Also returning to the squad are senior Sharon Fischer, junior Chloe Kouvaris and sophomores Cristina Caratozzolo, Annabelle Wert, Julia Cresci, Marni Quigg and Maddie Turner. Freshmen new to the squad are Elizabeth Costello, Alexa Nichols, Caitrin Massone, Sophie Ackerman and Ana Colburn.

The squad already competed this summer at the New England Cheerleading Association 35th Anniversary summer competition, held at Bryant University in Rhode Island, and had a very promising start to the season by winning Best Overall Team; the individual top cheerleading award by Nicole Amato; Best All Around Cheerleaders Meaghan Herlyn (fourth place) and Taylor Aquan (sixth place;); First Place in the Top Gun Partner Stunt Competition with the group of Nicole Amato, Taylor Aquan, Meaghan Herlyn, Avery Langhoff and Jamie Perry; and Outstanding Tumbler in Taylor Aquan.

The varsity squad will be coached this year by new head coach Nikki Guido and new assistant coach Sheri Fanning, who together bring substantial cheerleading experience and skill to their positions.

Coach Guido, who is from New Milford, has more than 14 years of cheerleading experience and 16 years in gymnastics. She cheered at New Milford High School, where the team won the South West Conference championship and placed second at states, and with the Champion All Stars in Danbury. At the college level, she cheered at Central Connecticut State University when the team placed fifth in the nation at the National Cheerleading Association’s national championships. Coach Guido has coached for three years with the New England Cheerleading Association.

Coach Guido looks forward to building on the WHS cheer program, and emphasizes that “coaching a team is about more than winning. It is an experience in which to learn life lessons, build self confidence, create an incredible bond between teammates/friends, learn good sportsmanship, endure physical hardships, surpass them and ultimately become a role model not only to youth athletes, but to another teammate, a classmate, a rival, or friend. Participating in sports entails hours of hard work, dedication and commitment. My duty as a coach is to work equally as hard and be equally as dedicated and committed.”

Assistant coach Fanning cheered with the Brookfield High School Bobcats, where she won top jumper and top gun partner stunt titles, and in college was captain of the squad at Western Connecticut State University, which also competed for a national title. She is excited about coaching the sport for which she has incredible passion.

“I love to teach and watch the growth of those who share the same love for the sport as I do. I’m excited for this season and can’t wait to see these athletes progress as individuals and as a team,” she said.